God Prefers If You Stay Single
I can still remember their faces staring at me in disbelief and horror. I had just begun a series of messages on dating and marriage. With a large group of college students sitting attentively and eagerly before me, I began my sermon by stating that “God prefers if you stay single.”
It got their attention.
1 Corinthians 7 records Paul dealing with an issue with some Christians who were struggling with the role of marriage and sexuality for believers. So much damage was being done due to sins of sexual immorality, some believers thought that sex should just be done away with for the believer (1 Cor. 7:1). Paul told the Corinthians that it was better if they stayed the way that he was. Paul was single.
In a time of tribulation for Christians, Paul stated that it makes life a lot easier if you just don’t get involved in romance and have a family because the time is short and the day is dangerous when it comes to living for Jesus. At the time he wrote this, Christians were being imprisoned, tortured, or killed for following Jesus. If someone never became married, that person didn’t need to worry about leaving widows or orphans behind if the call of Christ led to a cross.
So, he stated that if you have the gift of celibacy, just don’t get married. He also stated that if you get married, you haven’t sinned. If you stay single, you aren’t necessarily more spiritual than married people.
He just wants one specific thing for married and single people alike: undistracted devotion to the Lord (1 Cor. 7:35). If by staying single, you would constantly desire a marital relationship distracting from your devotion to the Lord, than his advice was to get married. If your desire for emotional, spiritual, or sexual intimacy would occupy your mind so much that you could not focus on Jesus, then you need to get married. Lust and desire would hinder one’s undistracted devotion to the Lord. So if those things were to be a hindrance, that person should get married.
In this section, Paul reveals that regardless of whether or not someone is married, the fact of our happiness is not the reason for marriage. It’s all about Jesus.
So, God does prefer if you stay single minded. He wants your attention on him. Married and single people alike, he wants each person to adhere to the relational state in which they can follow Jesus better.
When people are questioned concerning the first relationship recorded in the Bible, they often say, “Adam and Eve,” but that is simply incorrect! Before Eve came frolicking through the garden, Adam had a relationship with God first. And God demands that he always maintains his rightful place. So since God is your first relationship, the second most important relationship must come under submission to the first.
In the searching for that second relationship, many people can lose ground very quickly. In an attempt to find someone, oftentimes, I have seen believers settle for less than God’s best.
There is something worse than being single. You could be married to someone who doesn’t love Jesus. That is a much worse situation. Too often people settle for less than God’s best in an attempt to elevate past their single status. They attach themselves to someone “that’ll do.” That person gets married praying for the day his or her spouse will fully surrender to Jesus. More often that not, it never happens.
If you are single, I am sure loneliness can rob you of certain joys, but don’t let your restlessness cause more pain by making a bad decision.
I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. -1 Cor. 7:32
The Missionary in Love
Maybe you have heard of Lottie Moon. She is famous in Southern Baptist circles for a missionary offering that bears her name. She spent close to 40 years serving as a missionary in China.
In her last years in China, the Chinese were struggling with poverty, famine, and the effects of war. When Moon returned from her second furlough in 1904, she was deeply struck by the suffering of the people who were literally starving to death all around her. She pleaded for more money and more resources, but the mission board was heavily in debt and could send nothing. Mission salaries were voluntarily cut.
Unknown to her fellow missionaries, Moon shared her personal finances and food with anyone in need around her, severely affecting both her physical and mental health. In 1912, she only weighed 50 pounds. Alarmed, fellow missionaries arranged for her to be sent back home to the United States with a missionary companion. However, Moon died en route, at the age of 72, on December 24, 1912.
She almost never made it over to China. Lottie was in love, and she was about to marry someone who would have most likely kept her off the mission field.
She endured depressing bouts of loneliness in China and yet turned down a marriage proposal from Dr. Crawford Toy, a Confederate army chaplain, who had courted her before she left for China while she was living at her family plantation in Virginia.
Missionary life appealed to him, and marriage appealed to her, but his Christian ideals did not match hers. He was a Darwinian evolutionist, and evolution was a view Moon considered untenable and important enough to prohibit their future life together. She decided that she could not love a man who was not a follower of God in the same manner as she was and broke off the engagement.
Years later when she was questioned as to whether she had ever been in love, Moon responded: “Yes, but God had first claim on my life, and since the two conflicted, there could be no question about the result.”
This decision was also a huge turning point in Lottie’s life in that it signified her complete devotion to God and the church as she surrendered herself to carrying out his will. But when she set off for China the second time, she was even more alone than ever for she lacked both her fiancé affections and her sister’s support.
I share this story with you to inspire you and to cause you to do some introspection. For those who are single and wanting to serve God your entire life, there is something worse than being single – being married to someone who doesn’t wholeheartedly love Jesus.
Don’t waste your life on someone who associates with Jesus and yet He is not transforming that person daily. Think about all that wouldn’t have happened if Lottie chose differently. Never choose comfort over the Commission.